News - Smith Succeeds Simpson as CEO
- April 16, 2009
An extraordinary changing of the guard as well planned as any at tradition-bound Buckingham Palace is taking place at Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Cos.
Brad Smith (left) and Roger Simpson
Veteran Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Cos. executive Brad Smith is succeeding Roger Simpson as executive vice president and chief executive officer of the state’s largest insurer.
Smith, who was appointed chief operating officer in 2003, assumed the new title in February when Simpson announced his upcoming retirement. Simpson, executive vice president and CEO since 1997, will continue to work closely with Smith and others throughout the organization until he retires on Aug. 1.
After a career that has spanned 37 years, Simpson said he “felt like it was time to retire. My wife (of almost 40 years) and I want to travel, and I want to spend time with my grandchildren.”
Kentucky Farm Bureau president Mark Haney said the company has benefited from Simpson’s management.
“Roger has seen Kentucky Farm Bureau grow from a relatively small company to the largest property and casualty insurer in the state,” Haney said. “He also has made it possible to develop leaders such as Brad Smith.”
Simpson and Haney said they are confident that Smith will strengthen Kentucky Farm Bureau’s established relationship with its member-families and set the direction to expand its insurance business to the benefit of policyholders, employees and agents.
“We like his leadership style,” Haney said. “In his role as chief operating officer, he has showcased his leadership and organizational skills. Some people don’t feel the need to lead in the limelight. They are content to point the direction that should be taken. That fits Brad. … That doesn’t mean that he is afraid to make a decision himself. He’s not.”
Simpson - who identified Smith to one day become the company’s chief executive and recommended him to become its first COO - said: “He has proven himself with his performance. Brad has a vision and a great background for leading the company. I expect him to be very successful.”
Smith, a University of Kentucky law school graduate, joined the company in 1987 as staff counsel. He was appointed general counsel in 1996.
In addition to a law degree, Smith has undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration from UK.
Smith said his goal is to use agents’ and employees’ expertise, technology and other tools to “protect, nurture and grow” Kentucky Farm Bureau. “It’s a wonderful organization. We want to continue to be as strong as we can be to compete in an ever-evolving marketplace.”
Smith is taking on new duties as changes are taking shape in other departments because of the announced retirements of several people with years of experience.
Cindy Matherly, who was appointed vice president of Accounting & Finance in 1996, leaves at the end of April, and Mike Fisher, who is capping off a 34-year career as vice president of Claims, is a month later. Janet Cox announced her retirement as vice president of Product & Risk Management effective Aug. 1, and Legal Services’ governmental affairs manager David Finney will retire in September.
In preparation for those transitions, Nathan Anguiano was hired to replace Matherly, and former director of claim support Greg Youngblood was promoted to vice president of Claims. For several months, Anguiano and Youngblood worked closely with the veterans to prepare for their new jobs. They assumed their respective vice president’s titles in mid-March as Matherly and Fisher took on more advisory roles.
Finney has been a mentor for attorney Paula Pabon, who joined Kentucky Farm Bureau as counsel for corporate and government affairs before the start of the 2009 General Assembly. Finney, a longtime lobbyist, introduced her to lawmakers and their staffs as she navigated her first legislative session, and he will continue to help her learn how the organization works through legislative affairs year-round. “Paula will have such a jump-start because of their time together,” Smith said.
Simpson and Smith have said that the plan is to have someone in place to take advantage of Cox’s experience and institutional knowledge before she retires, too.
“We are ready for this,” Smith said of the management turnover in progress. “It is invaluable to have a successful and experienced resource as our people have been in their roles as teachers and mentors of their successors.”
He has had that advantage working with Simpson over the years, he said. “Roger and I have a great relationship.”
Simpson echoed Smith, saying: “We are working very closely together to make it a smooth transition. I certainly don’t expect Brad to do everything the way I did. Our personalities and backgrounds are different. But we want only what is best for the company and all the people who are part of the Kentucky Farm Bureau family.”
It is a continuation of the lessons he learned from more experienced people who acted as his mentors before the word became in vogue in business vocabularies. “I had good role models,” said Simpson, an Eastern Kentucky University graduate who started as a junior accountant at Kentucky Farm Bureau.
In addition to his current corporate duties, he is chairman of the Kentucky Insurance Guaranty Association and serves on the boards of the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America and Kentucky Association of Manufacturers. Simpson also is a member of Capital Insurance Corp.’s advisory committee, the American Management Association, Institute of Management Accountants and Society of Financial Examiners.
Simpson and his wife, Vicky, have three children and three grandchildren. Smith, a native of Elizabethtown, and his wife, Rhonda, live in Louisville